THE family of an eight-year-old Cork boy who had long-awaited health appointments cancelled as a result of the HSE hacking crisis has highlighted the severe impact it is having on some of the most vulnerable in our society.
Gill Byrne is a member of Down with Arthritis, an advocacy group for children with Down syndrome-associated arthritis. She has highlighted the plight of children waiting on crucial tests, including her son Keane.
Keane was due to attend Cork University Hospital for an MRI today to determine if he has the condition. He was also due to undergo an echocardiogram to assess his heart as well as blood tests. The hospital appointments have all been cancelled.
Keane had contracted Covid-19 shortly after Christmas. Gill explained that, while the condition was mild, he went on to develop long Covid symptoms that included exhaustion and head pain. He attended Crumlin Children’s Hospital earlier this year but the family hoped his health would soon be back on track.
“This would have helped us see if there was any damage done from Covid but that’s all ruined now,” she said.
Gill, who is from Kilworth, said her biggest concern now is for the many children like Keane, who are anxiously awaiting MRIs for Down Syndrome-related arthritis.
“This is hard on everyone,” she said. “The nurses in the hospital are heartbroken too.”
Gill said the situation is even more devastating, given that there are children waiting years for medical appointments. “As the week unfolded, it was clear that everything would be cancelled,” she said. “This is the most vulnerable being hit yet again.
“There are children out there who are waiting years for MRIs. Keane had been one of the lucky ones to actually get an appointment. Hospitals are inundated as it is without this happening.”
The mother of two said that her son is able to communicate the level of pain he is in.
“So many children had rheumatology appointments,” she said. “When kids are in pain and need help, it’s difficult to know what to do. The hardest part is not knowing when you are going to be seen again.
“With Covid, everything was cancelled, slowed down and put back but this has made everything even more difficult.
“All we want is to have our children looked at and if they need a pain management plan to get that in place. They can’t do that without an MRI. “
Gill, a mum of two, hopes that the situation can be resolved before more lives are affected.
“It’s terrible that this is hanging over everyone’s head and that their personal information could be posted online at any time,” she said.
“This was such a cruel thing to happen. However, I doubt these hackers stopped to think about the people they were damaging. Their reasons were purely financial.”
- To find out more about the Down
syndrome-related arthritis advocacy group, of which Gill is a member, visit